Nick Foligno is the new captain of the Columbus Blue Jackets, but it’s about more than just having the ‘C’ on his jersey.
In Wednesday’s press conference in which he was announced as the eighth captain in the history of the Blue Jackets franchise, Foligno stressed often that the captaincy is about more than just being recognized as the leader of the group. For him, being Columbus’ captain is about taking the club to the next level.
“We’re working towards something,” Foligno said at the press conference to introduce him as captain. “That’s the evolution that (coach Todd Richards) talked about. Obviosuly, we’re working towards a Stanley Cup and this is the next part. I’m so honored that I can be a guy that’s looked to help lead in that direction and I’ll do the best I can.”
When it was announced that the Blue Jackets were planning to announce a captain this week, it seemed like the obvious choice was Foligno. An all-star this season and captain for one of the All-Star Game teams, Foligno has improved nearly every season as a Blue Jacket and became not just a 20-goal scorer for the first time in his career, but a 30-goal man with 31 tallies and 73 points in 79 games this season.
Though it’s near impossible to know what goes on behind closed doors, both Richards and Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen painted a vivid picture of how much it made sense to name Foligno the captain.
“Nick, for me, this season took some big steps forward as a leader of our group,” said Richards. “Lots of adversity we faced, and usually the leaders become really visible in times like that.”
Kekalainen echoed Richards’ sentiment in a way that showed Foligno has given Columbus every quality they could have hoped for in a leader.
“I don’t know if there was one single moment (where Foligno stood out as the next captain),” said Kekalainen. “But I would say there was a checklist and the checks kept coming. He kept checking those things off the list. … He kept filling all the right criteria that we had expected from that guy that rises from the group.”
As for the style of captain he’s going to be, Foligno said he plans on not changing anything about his game. While he said he looks up to leaders he’s had before – players such as Adrian Aucoin, Derek MacKenzie and Daniel Alfredsson – he doesn’t see his style of play, or leadership, changing.
“It’s not my place to change anything,” Foligno said. “It’s to try and help move forward. Obviously, there’s going to be some moments where I’m going to have to stand up and say some things or make sure that the room is the way it needs to be, but for the most part my relationship is going to stay the same. That’s what got me into this situation, that’s what gained and earned my respect and trust of the players and I want that to continue.”
The Blue Jackets acquired Foligno, drafted 28th overall by the Senators in 2012, from Ottawa in exchange for defenseman Marc Methot on July 1, 2012. In 194 games with Columbus, Foligno has scored 55 goals and 131 points, helping the Blue Jackets to a post-season appearance in 2013-14. Foligno signed a six-year, $33 million extension with the club in December.
Foligno becomes the sixth captain in Blue Jackets history and the first one since Rick Nash was dealt to the New York Rangers in 2012.